'An Even Better Friend': 45 Years Since the Apollo 17 Decision (Part 2)

Standing near a huge boulder, overlooking the scenic grandeur of the Taurus-Littrow valley, Jack Schmitt became the first - and so far only - professional geologist to visit another world. His selection as a member of the Apollo 17 crew came at the end of a long and difficult process, which saw him overlooked for an assignment time and time again...and eventually resulted in Joe Engle losing his own seat on a lunar voyage. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, this month, the names of the final crew of lunar explorers of the 20th century were announced. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, this month, NASA made the decision which would close out human exploration of the lunar surface for more than two generations: the selection of the final crew to […]

'I Didn't Feel Any Obligation': 45 Years Since the Apollo 17 Decision (Part 1)

Forty years after Apollo 17, Jack Schmitt remains the only professional geologist to practice his art on another world. Pictured in this view with Old Glory at Taurus-Littrow, he is backdropped by the two celestial bodies upon which he had based his entire career: the Moon and the Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

As Project Apollo wore on, the intensity of lobbying by the scientific community to get geologist-astronaut Jack Schmitt to the Moon increased. Originally assigned to the Apollo 15 backup crew, Schmitt might have flown Apollo 18, prior to a sweeping cancelation of the final missions in the program. Photo Credit: NASA

For almost five […]

'Familiar to Millions of Americans': 45 Years Since Apollo 14 (Part 4)

Apollo 14 concludes humanity's third manned lunar landing with a perfect splashdown on 9 February 1971. Photo Credit: NASA

Bathed by the intense lunar sunlight, Antares sits on the undulating plain of Fra Mauro in February 1971. Photo Credit: NASA

For those of us born within the last four decades, the notion of looking up at the Moon and knowing that fellow human beings are living and working there has been as alien […]

'It's Been A Long Way': 45 Years Since Apollo 14 (Part 3)

The Apollo 14 crew, from left, consisted of Stu Roosa, Al Shepard and Ed Mitchell. They are backdropped by their official mission patch. Photo Credit: NASA

The desolation of the Fra Mauro site and the tracks of the Mobile Equipment Transporter (MET), as captured by one of the Apollo 14 astronauts. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, last week, the sixth team of Apollo lunar explorers—and only the third to accomplish a landing on the Moon’s dusty surface—headed back to […]

'Fat as a Goose': 45 Years Since Apollo 14 (Part 2)

Bathed by the intense lunar sunlight, Antares sits on the undulating plain of Fra Mauro in February 1971. Photo Credit: NASA

Al Shepard (foreground) and Ed Mitchell, pictured in the Lunar Module (LM) simulator during training. Photo Credit: NASA

A few hours after leaving Earth on 31 January 1971—45 years ago, this week—Apollo 14 seemed a charmed mission-in-progress, providing a stark contrast with its immediate predecessor, the ill-fated Apollo 13. As outlined in yesterday’s AmericaSpace […]

'Almost Worth the Entire Trip': 45 Years Since Apollo 14 (Part 1)

Al Shepard, pictured at Fra Mauro during Apollo 14 in early 1971. This was the planned landing site for Apollo 13. Photo Credit: NASA

Al Shepard, pictured at Fra Mauro during Apollo 14 in early 1971. This was the planned landing site for Apollo 13. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, this week, the sixth team of Apollo lunar explorers—and only the third to accomplish a landing on the Moon’s dusty surface—headed back to Earth after a mission […]

Edgar Mitchell, Sixth Apollo Moonwalker, Dies at 85

Ed Mitchell, who died Thursday, 4 February 2016, aged 85. Photo Credit: NASA, with thanks to Michael Galindo/AmericaSpace

Ed Mitchell, who died Thursday, 4 February 2016, aged 85. Photo Credit: NASA, with thanks to Michael Galindo/AmericaSpace

Forty-five years to the week since he arrived in lunar orbit and subsequently became one of only 12 humans ever to leave his footprints in the dust of another world, Apollo 14 astronaut Ed Mitchell has […]

Sleeping On Alien Shores: The Unquiet Slumbers of the Apollo Moonwalkers

Covered in lunar grime, and clad only in his water-cooled underwear, Gene Cernan manages a grin for Jack Schmitt’s camera, aboard the Lunar Module (LM) Challenger during the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. The astronauts’ space suits can be seen, stashed at the back of the cramped cabin. Above the helmets can be […]

Top Ten US EVA Missions of All Time: No. 10—'The Long and the Short'

Jim Voss is pictured at the end of Discovery’s Remote Manipulator System (RMS) mechanical arm, during the longest EVA ever undertaken, in March 2001. Photo Credit: NASA

Over the course of five decades, no fewer than 211 individuals from 10 sovereign nations—Russia, the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, China, and Italy—have departed […]

Walking on an Alien World: The First 50 Years of Spacewalking (Part 2)

A mere four years after humanity’s first spacewalk, EVA and space suit technology advanced sufficiently to permit Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, yesterday, on 18 March 1965, humanity became an “extravehicular” spacefaring civilization for the first time, when 30-year-old Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov ventured outside […]